Sogno divino

Can you believe it’s December?

I have been on such a marathon with my certificate classes, work, trips back and forth to our place in San Diego and the other householdy things I do in Valencia, that I have had almost no time to write on this blog.

Let me first say, what better time of year to introduce Little Italy on the water at the top of Downtown San Diego, than the holidays.

This old and venerated neighborhood — still hanging in there when many similar places have gone under, victims of “modernization” in other cities — is alive and hopping all hours of the day and night, all times of year.

But, especially in autumn and winter.

I had Kevin and Anna in tow when we made a shopping run to Little Italy recently. I still managed to get a few shots that could make up a series and ended up with over 150 pictures. Here are some of them.

Little Italy is colorful, as you can see. There is a misty haze in the air no matter the weather, being so close to the Pacific — evident in this set, too.

That gave me the ability to show the bright colors that characterize this enclave, yet with some softness imparted by the moisture.  It is never hot or cold, just pleasant all year long.

But that is a major feature of San Diego in general. It is truly mediterranean and likely one attraction for Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The similar neighborhood is long gone from Los Angeles.

One legacy of all this is the staggering number of grocery stores and restaurants, trattorias and cafes that still inhabit the area.  And, pastry shops are also unique to this little part of town.

Urban hipsters are moving in in droves. Some are able to rent the vintage wooden houses that still stand.

Others are snapping up very small but very luxurious condos with views that developers have used to attract people to purchase in this place what would buy a villa elsewhere.

You don’t want to know the prices.

But, I have figured out that for a 1000 square foot apartment with three tiny bedrooms and two tiny bathrooms, buyers are grateful to pay almost a cool million dollars.

Now, as to blogging. I have to admit, as much as I love coming here to discuss things that you and I care about, it is hard to be chatty while this catastrophe unfolds in front of us.

Those of you who voted for this deranged toddler/con-man should admit to yourselves it was a mistake. Those of you who abstained because you got it into your heads that Hillary was just as bad, you are just as culpable for raining all this down on us.   Geoff and I knew we would get exactly this, just not the degree of depravity.

But, I won’t dwell on it. Like many of us, I am riding it out and hopeful that the Democrats pull their collective heads out of the sand and get the majority back so we can save this country from going any farther down this Orwellian neo-fascist road.

I don’t care who we put up for POTUS, that person had better have experience and fortitude because it is going to be an ugly fight.

That said, I would love you to comment about anything (not necessarily the politics, of course!) but you don’t have to. We are a community and I know you are here and we have each other’s backs.

Hugs to you all! Belated Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends. And Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and Happy Holidays to everyone, as well.

Hoping to get back here in January — starting another certification class but I will post as soon as I can.

“Sogno divino” is my play on words. It can mean three or four things in Italian. It is also the clever name of a wine shop in Little Italy.

Images: Chez Bebe Assets/Little Italy, Downtown, San Diego

 

Truckulence

Now for something completely different.  (Click on the pictures to view them large.)

Let’s just get an old truck and paint it ourselves! Genius. Then we save money for a Mercedes.

As I mentioned in my Flickr series featuring these pictures, Geoffrey woke up one day after Christmas and announced it was time to get two new vehicles. Finally! After 15 years. I was really looking forward to it, even though we buy cars to last. I always get either a Mercedes or a Volvo.  At one point I tried Mitsubishi Monteros — loved them and then for a couple of years drove a Chrysler Town & Country minivan — liked it a lot. But for longevity and safety, I am a Volvo fan.

Yup. Here’s my car, parked in San Diego while we went to a fair recently. No hesitation. Seats 7 and rides like a dream. Comfy seats. I love it!

So, I had been eyeing an XC90 SUV for a few years and didn’t even have to think twice. I ran right out and found one I loved, with sparkling dark gray metallic, just like my older one. Done and done!

I am not a Beemer fan per se, but how about a convertible with a sparkling roof?

Geoffrey was a different story. We already had, between us, five vehicles. He had two trucks and a car, I had two cars: my vintage Mercedes totally maintained and restored and my 2002 Volvo sedan. Both in the same silver grey.  Geoffrey had his two trucks, one with an extended bed (are you sleepy yet?) and his black 2002 Volvo station wagon.

Or a cool little job with glowing hubs and an iridescent “butterfly wing” finish? Works for me!

Naturally, I thought he was going to get a sedan. But no, he decided he simply had to have another truck. One that he could take to all the fancy clients when he needed to look professional and ready to work, but also upscale and sophisticated. Ugh. How does that work? Another truck? And, where would be put it?

Maybe a custom Jeep? Looks roomy.

Resistance!!

This is probably what he imagines, with me emerging from a massive metal monster looking fierce. I might be forced to get tattoos!

We have three garages at our house. One of them has my Merc, one has his Volvo, and the other one is full of junk. We can squeeze three vehicles in the driveway and he keeps one truck in front of the house on our street and another one at his building in Downtown LA. Now we would have my new XC90 and his truck? We can’t hog the street, so I was really getting upset.

Well, my favorite color right now is purple. How about this? Like, glow-in-the-dark, right?

Also, I don’t want to drive around in another ole truck when he is driving. What’s the fun of new wheels then? I wanted something really snazzy and snappy and cool. Not a clunky truck.

Or … mother-of-pearl!

So, the only resolution was to let me pick it out. Aha!!! Dangerous.

Copper and Dayglo pink?

These pictures reflect my ideas as I let my imagination do the shopping.

Uh, this is what a full extended bed and king cab look like! I just tweaked it a bit. Manly, huh?

I know, right?

Something spooky for Halloween …

Wait for it — right down at the bottom is the one we finally chose. We could agree on it because it has a regular bed and a totally tricked out luxurious “cab”.

Or eerie … for the coming apocalypse. Just sayin’ …

OK, so it’s not a Mercedes, but I scored a victory by getting one that matches my car and can fit, amazingly enough, both in the driveway and in front of our house (with his other truck sent packing to his building to join the first one).

Prrrrrrrrrr …

Got all that? Anyway, that’s one of the many things taking up our time as the summer draws to a close.

Thought you might enjoy seeing these “confections” that sprang full grown from my head.

Images: Chez BeBe assets/Santa Clarita, California

‘Tis the season

No, not the season of joy, love and giving.

The hunting season.

This post is for anyone who has the link.

Please do not friend, follow, “like” me or comment on any of my social media sites, if you are a hunter.

As far as I am concerned, in the 21st century, it is the cowardly and brutal act of a weak and emotionally handicapped individual.

I am not in the thrall of any organization. I have held this position my entire life.

The NRA has infiltrated every sector of American society with lies about the need for hunting. Many people call it a sport. Both would be laughable, if they were not so serious.

Hunters, the NRA are pathetic.

One hundred thousand years ago, certain tribes may have needed to hunt animals on a small, low-tech (naturally) scale for survival. There are virtually no tribes like these left. Certainly not the overweight, flaccid American men who like to hunt with computerized automatic missiles from high-speed vehicles in “preserves” where animals are cornered for the enjoyment of these sick people.

Don’t lecture me about overpopulation of deer. I am an expert on this subject. Don’t tell me you eat what you kill, that’s just as bad.

If you are a meat eater, I can understand somewhat because the animal concentration camps where the carcasses you consume are kept and tortured, are hidden and manned by immigrants desperate for work. Hunters confront their victims head on. They have no excuse.

When they wake up or get treatment, we might re-establish our relationship. Until then, I want nothing to do with hunters.

To my regular friends here on WP, I am sorry, but this is the best place to post this note. A regular post is imminent.

Tickling ivories

“Back up you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women. But you can’t intimidate me. Back. Up!”  I love that line. Wish she had said it during that debate. More on this in a minute.

August flew by, didn’t it? It is my birthday month (yay) and I would always stretch out every minute to enjoy it, but these days August brings the dog days of heat and humidity.

Back when I first moved to Los Angeles, it was dry and there were cold winters, hot arid summers, with a bit of rain in winter and spring and very warm but breezy autumns. That is changing fast. It is warmish all year long, rarely dipping below 50F. Sigh.

Still, the cusp of September brings memories of crisp, cold, sunny New York City days, when I was growing up. And the thought of the icy, bright beauty of Ithaca, where I went to school. New outfits — lots of them tailored wool. Snug thigh-high boots shuffling through a crackly carpet of muted red, gold and violet maple leaves on bumpy Upstate sidewalks. I miss the Northeast most in Fall.

Would it surprise you to know that I am somewhat heartened by the obvious developments of the current political scene? The man has lost his mind and is now so disinhibited, his true ugly inner self has emerged in all its pathology. He was in Arizona last night, which always brings out the worst in him (and worst for him is pretty damn bad). There, he made sure he praised a racist criminal, convicted felon and trashed a war hero with brain cancer. We, the sane here, just keep shaking our heads, but anticipate his marginalization imminently. Small comfort, but at least the pain is over. Mrs. Clinton, a virtual hug of support goes out to you, once again.

But, I am rambling.  What have we here? My latest Flickr series.

I finally ventured into monochrome photography. It’s a subject so vast and well covered elsewhere by serious photographers that I don’t feel the need to amplify it further. I am always looking for the next creative experiment and this was the one for August. Something completely different coming up in September.

We are heading down to our house in SD next week and will be there for at least two weeks. It means hauling more furniture, which is always tedious but beats buying new stuff. Our current house in Los Angeles is half the size of the previous one, so we have had furniture packed to the rafters in the garage. Might as well use it. Geoffrey has been busy refinishing some of it and he is so good at this, it looks brand new. Good to have a handy husband!  Well, it’s his hobby anyway. We should always face in the direction the horse is traveling.

The ‘ivories’ reference points to my preference for warm whites in black and white photographs. I tried in each one of these to process the final jpeg with varying shades from eggshell to egg cream. See what you think. I also concentrated on human subjects — something that always makes me nervous, but, for this set I used long lenses and cropped the interim TIFs close.

Some I really liked. Some I felt were so-so.

The full set of 30 shots is on Flickr right now.  What I find intriguing is that pictures I thought were mediocre sometimes garner the most attention and others that I found astonishingly good considering I am not a photographer, people yawn at. Ah well. I have no ego in this!

In fact, the Romanovs occupying the WH right now have sucked all the ego out of America for the moment. So feel free to react to them however you like. I promise you I will not be offended.

Hugs, everyone. I hope to be around to see you all, while we pack up the cargo van.

Images: Chez Bebe assets/Southern California

 

Soft spots

I recently took an online class with Geo Rittenmyer on photography for stock sales.

His portfolio was impressive but even more intriguing were the tips he gave us about taking photographs that might be sold for thousands of dollars.

It is not what you would think.

The trend is not to use expensive cameras and lenses and studio equipment, and years of experience.

Instead he reported that the agencies who purchase stock photos are snapping up cell phone or film and toy camera shots with lots of grain.

There are two key elements: bring the viewer into the shot.

And keep it fresh.

That’s it. Those agencies are looking for new and emotional images of every kind.

At the same time I took that class, I decided my next series would be experimenting with soft glowing details and avoiding saturation.

Even though California has bright light all year long, and many areas reflect that by decorating exteriors in bright colors (especially Downtown San Diego where primary red, blue and yellow are evident everywhere in modern architecture) I was determined to make a whole series of subdued photos.

Then, the third element appeared. Topaz has a new suite called Studio that provides an array of precision tools for post-processing.

Et Voilà! These shots were among the results.

They are a mix of pictures. Some new, some old and reprocessed, some with my cell phone camera, some with the D800 and D610.

I don’t plan to be a Stock photographer (I am not in that league yet), but Rittenmyer convinced us that even a newbie can produce a shot that brings in years of residuals. Hmmm …

Stay tuned!

 

georittenmyer.com/portfolio/

Images: Chez BeBe assets/NoCal and SoCal